The family of the 25-year-old university graduate who has joined terrorist group, Islamic State (IS) in Iraq says he had been expressing extremist views prior to his departure.
Chief Editor at the Daily Guide newspaper, Alhaji AR Gomda, who is close to the family, says an examination of Nazir Nortei Alema’s laptop revealed he had been consuming extremist content on the internet.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) graduate shocked his family with a numbing text message declaring he has joined ISIS, a group noted for its senseless, murderous acts.
Nazir just completed his National Service with the Ghana Statistical Service and according to the family, he sent a WhatsApp message saying he was going to Prestea from where he would proceed to Takoradi on an official assignment.
This message was followed by a shocking one which read in part: “Pray for me, for I will never forget you in my prayer and it’s my hope and prayer that we meet again if not in this world then in Jannah (paradise). I love you all. May Allah grant us understanding and guide us all to the straight path. Asalaamu alaikum.
“I told you a lie to please my Allah. The deception was to go do some research work in far away Prestea while the main idea was to move far away from you all to the Islamic State (IS). I know it might sound kind of crazy for you but your son really had to take this bold step to get out of the corrupt system of Ghana which has democracy first on its list. You can follow this link to know about the ‘shirk’ called democracy islamqa.info/en/98134."
Alhaji Gomda, who broke the story of Nazir’s recruitment, said the Alema family was devastated after receiving the message.
Latif Alema, father of the boy, with anther son decided to go into Nazir's laptop and were shocked by what they found; Nazir had been watching IS propaganda material in which children are undergoing military training and recruits are taught how to tie the Muslim veil, the Daily Guide Chief Editor told Joy FM's Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson.
The message sent by Nazir to his parents, Alhaji Gomda said, is simply the same template that the terrorist group uses for all recruits across the world.
A young Muslim, Abass, shared his experience with a man who tried to recruit him into IS.
He told Joy FM’s SMS he came into contact with a brilliant, well educated Muslim through online conversations last year.
This young man whom Abass describe as very engaging, insightful and intelligent, started schooling him on the ideology of IS.
“He sent me videos of what ISIS is doing and in some of the videos you see ISIS doing humanitarian activities. He was sending me news releases. He was well informed when it comes to the actions of ISIS and he was connected to youth in UK,” Abass said.
He explained that the young man had a twitter account with a large following; “I was following him on Twitter until the account was taken down.”
He said during this year’s Ramadan fasting, “he sent a message that a brother just left with his wife to join ISIS. I asked him whether they had told their parents but he said no. He said in Islam when you are going for Jihad, you do not have to tell your parents.”
Abass said the young man is very eloquent and adept at quoting the Qur’an and misinterpreting its contents.
He said the last time they had a conversation, the unnamed man was trying to raise money to buy his plane ticket and leave Ghana to join the group.
The Spokesperson for the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu, said religion has nothing to do with conflict but people have used religion as a rallying point to organise people for their own dishonourable purposes.
For him, what has happened in many Muslim-dominated parts of the world is that people exploit Islam for political reasons.
“An authentic and enlightened understanding of Islam can never lead to these happenings,” he told Joy FM’s SMS.
He said there is an unfortunate impression that Islam is a political ideology which seeks to dominate the world as a superpower but this view, he believes, is absurd.
The reports on Nazir’s recruitment were received with shock; “We received the reports with trepidation and we are gripped by anxiety,” he stressed.
He said the Chief Imam, Sheikh Osumanu Sharubutu, has assured the security agencies that persons who express extremist views will be reported for corrective measures to be taken against them.
Sheikh Shaibu urged Muslims and parents particularly to be vigilant and alert the security agencies if they notice any member of the Muslim Community (Umah), is exhibiting extreme tendencies or expressing extremist views.
“Raw Islamic knowledge cannot be equated to Islamic wisdom,” he stated, warning against allowing people whose backgrounds are unverified to preach in mosques.